Upright Behavior, the second album from the bewitching Brooklyn quintet Landlady, has the same cracked-worldview approach as the band’s debut, 2011′s Keeping To Yourself. But this time, frontman Adam Schatz — who’s also the multi-instrumentalist known as Brown Sugar in the equally skewed project Man Man—significantly tones down his band’s goofy vocal mannerisms and choppy garage rock vibes. Instead, Upright Behavior is more like Dirty Projectors or TV on the Radio, digging up the shadowy side of whimsy.
The album’s prickly percussion, clipped guitars and strings sound refracted through a funhouse mirror — all halting rhythms, stuttering syncopation and unexpected contortions — while underneath, Farfisa organ and Casio keyboards simmer impatiently. This subtle darkness dovetails neatly with Upright Behavior‘s lyrical obsessions: fear of death, fighting off loneliness and navigating life’s uphill battles. Schatz’s lyrics are concise but effective, offering surrealistic couplets (“I am as loving as I can/ I pledge allegiance to my frying pan”) and absurdist poetry. Throw in Schatz’s eccentric delivery — his vocal melodies frequently follow the twisted path set by the album’s rhythms — and Upright Behavior ends up being a tidy, engrossing sliver of modern weirdness.